State seeks death penalty for Rodney Newberry

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local judge is in the final steps of deciding whether Rodney Newberry, 44, should be sentenced to death for a gunning down a man sitting inside his car in 2009.

In January, a jury convicted Newberry of first degree murder and later voted recommending he be sentenced to death.

RELATED STORY: Man faces death penalty in 2009 fatal shooting

Pernell Stevens was shot while inside his car outside a North Pearl Street nightclub. Prosecutors say the gunman using an AK-47 killed an innocent man and robbed him. The car was hit by gunfire 12 times.

"I just miss my baby," said Hattie Bowens after Friday's hearing while talking about her only child. Stevens left behind two children who are now 13 and 9 years of age.

"He was always there for me, he was a family man," said Bowens.

"Rodney Newberry just walked up with an assault rifle and just started blasting away, he did not stop until he had killed Purnell Stevens," said prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda.

During a hearing where all sides could offer more information to the court, defense attorneys told the judge that Newberry was shot twice as a young adult. The state said Newberry also shot a man and served prison time for that crime. Also the court was told Newberry fired his gun at two police officers.

Judge Adrian Soud on April 4 is expected to sentence Newberry.


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